Thousands of runners braved record cold temperatures to participate in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna and left behind a trail of donations that will benefit Central Florida charities.
Disney Marathon organizers collected more than 26,000 pounds of clothing shed by runners who layered on winter attire to keep warm along the 26-mile race route. From Epcot to Magic Kingdom, runners left behind approximately 30,000 pieces of clothing including coats, hats, sweaters, shirts and gloves that will be laundered at Disney textile services and later delivered to Central Florida organizations such as Harvest Time International, Salvation Army and Coalition for the Homeless.
Some runners also used the weekend as a way to raise funds for charitable causes. For example, several groups of runners collectively raised $5.4 million dollars for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Locally, friends and colleagues teamed up to put their best foot forward. The Burnham Institute’s Team Burnham raised $140,000 for blood cancer research, while two teams from Florida Hospital raised more than $54,200 for the Florida Hospital for Children. “I have never been a runner but decided since this was for a good cause to give it a try,” said Samantha O’Lenick, organizer for Florida Hospital’s Females in Training or F.I.T. team.
More than 55,000 runners registered for events such as the Disney Half Marathon, the Disney Pixar Up and Away Family Fun Run 5K, Disney’s Kids Races and a Health & Fitness Expo, marking the largest Disney Marathon Weekend since the event’s debut in 1994.